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Queen Elizabeth I
By; Michelle Edwards
Due date; December 18, 2006
The sixteenth century in Europe was a time of unprecedented change. During this
time Western Europe’s dominance over other countries began to extend to those it found
smaller, weaker, or technologically less advanced than itself. England had been a
relatively inferior nation early in the century. Politically, geographically, and culturally, it
stood off to the side of Europe. England was barely equal to the strength and power of
Portugal or the Netherlands, let alone France or Spain. The sixteenth century saw
England’s rise from insignificance to become the leading edge of European influence and
power. The history of England’s ascension includes a broad range of themes: the cultural
influence of Shakespeare’s genius, the dramatic increase in geographical knowledge
credited to a rise in the number of privateers and explores, and the technological
breakthrough in military strategy, which allowed the English to defeat the Spanish
Armada in 1588. It was the combination of these factors that propelled England among
the most feared European powers by 1600, and establishing an empire that would encircle
the globe. However, none of this could have been achieved without the aid and support of
England’s Queen Elizabeth I.
Elizabeth Tudor was born in London on September 7th, 15331 To King Henry VIII
and his second wife Anne Boleyn. The birth of a female failed to please a country that
was set on a male heir. On May 2nd, 1535, Anne was arrested at Greenwich and was
informed of the charges against her: adultery, incest with her younger brother, witchcraft,
and plotting to murder the King, and was beheaded.2 Elizabeth only a mere two yeas at
the time of her mothers execution was exiled from court her title of Princess was
removed. Following Anne’s death, she was addressed as Lady Elizabeth and lived
1
Somerset, Anne. Elizabeth I. Great Britain, London: Butler & Tanne Ltd., 1991 page 5
Hibbert, Christopher. The Virgin Queen: The Personal History of Elizabeth I. London England: Viking,
1990 page 25
2
separately from her father while he married his succession of wives. Only days after
Anne's execution in 1536, Henry married Jane Seymour. The Act of Succession in 1536,
declared Henry's children by Queen Jane to be next in the line for the crown, and
declared both the Lady Mary and Lady Elizabeth illegitimate.3
In 1547 King Henry VIII died and Elizabeth’s half brother Edward VI inherited the
throne, at the age of nine. Then, in 1553, her Roman Catholic half-sister, Mary I
succeeded the throne4. At this time Elizabeth faced many dangers and was thought to be
the leader of Protestant conspiracies, in spite of the face that she had publicly supported
Mary’s accession and even attended Mass. In 1554, Mary had Elizabeth imprisoned in
the Tower of London, briefly threatened her with execution, and placed her under house
arrest5. At the age of twenty five, Elizabeth became Queen upon her sister’s death in
1558. Elizabeth would become the longest-reigning English monarch and the first woman
to successfully occupy the English throne. The time during her reign is often referred to
as The Golden Age of English history. When she took the throne, England was in despair.
The country had been weakened by war and religious conflict, the treasury was empty,
and the powerful nations Spain and France both plotted to conquer England. It was
widely believed that Elizabeth’s position as Queen was both dangerous and uncertain,
and that her priority should be to marry quickly and lean upon her husband for support.
Elizabeth took matters into her own hands, focusing on government, though she had a
number of suitors and potential husbands, she persistently refused to marry.
The popular image of the period, which persists to present day, is one of relative
stability at home, energetic expeditions of discovery, and an unprecedented flowering of
Bassnett, Susan, Elizabeth I : A Feminist Perspective. New York: St. Martin’s 1988 page 55
Plowden, Alison. Elizabeth Regina. New York, New York: Times Books, 1980 page 6
5
Weir, Alison. Elizabeth the Queen. Great Britain, London: Pimlico, 1998. page 16
3
4
literary genius. Elizabeth’s greatest accomplishment was her success in infusing her
government and her realm with confidence, pride, and energy that sent Sir Francis Drake
around the globe, led Sir Walter Raleigh to plant nations in the wilderness of the New
World, and inspired William Shakespeare to praise England in his play Richard II. Queen
Elizabeth I had a prosperous effect on late sixtieth century England because she
encouraged the flourishing of artistic genius, demonstrated a keen ability to rule alone in
a man’s world, and, with the aid of privateers, expanded the empire’s colonies and riches.
The Renaissance is best characterized as an intellectual and educational movement,
which originated in Italy in the later decades of the 1300s. This movement spread through
Europe over the next three centuries, ending with the English Renaissance, prospering
into the early 1600s. The arts of the Renaissance era had been spreading rapidly from
Italy, and began to flourish in England without the assistance of Queen Elizabeth I. The
development of the English Renaissance was inevitable, and without Elizabeth, the
advancement of wisdom, art, and culture would have continued to blossom.
The peak of artistic achievement in Italy is referred to as the High Renaissance,
and the masterpieces of this period are still marveled at this day. Leonardo,
Michelangelo, and Raphael embodied in their lives and work the powerful ideals and
creative spirit of the Renaissance.6 High Renaissance painting is said to have begun with
Leonardo da Vinci, one of the artists who solved the problems of perspective, light and
shade, texture, and forehortening.7 Renaissance artists used these new techniques,
creating spectacular works of art, which influenced the rest of the world to follow in the
Italian footsteps of Da Vinci. The High Renaissance sculpture is best exemplified by
Michelangelo’s ‘Pieta’ and ‘David’, who are characterized by the ideal balance between
6
7
Frey, RS, Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596). 2001. 26 Oct.2006. http://sirfrancisdrakehistory.net/
Turning Points. The Renaissance. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, Inc. 2000 page 138
movement and the motionless. Michelangelo’s idea of beauty was related to nature and
was evident in his art but also in his inspirational poems. Raphael was a productive
painter who worked quickly and almost effortlessly, completing hundreds of frescoes,
portraits, and oils.8 Since Italian art was majestic and inspiring, it encouraged Europe to
maintain the spread of the High Renaissance.
The Renaissance in Northern Europe was fuelled by the increasing power of the
printing press, and shaped by the religious tone of Northern humanism. Historians Peter
Gay and R.K. Webb contend that while the Northern Renaissance was hugely influenced
by Italian culture, it nevertheless reflected, in its earlier stages, the scholarship, religious
faithfulness, and satiric temper of the leading Northern humanists.9 William Caxton, the
most distinguished printer in England resorted to Italian scholars in England as editors
and advisors. The leading English Humanists John Tiptoft, William Grocyn, Thomas
Linacre, and John Colet all studied in Italy during the second half of the sixtieth century
and bore the marks of Italian tastes and Italian scholarships.10 Richard Puttenham wrote
“Having traveled into Italy, and there tasted the sweet and stately measures of the Italian
poesies, greatly polished out rude and homely manner.”11 When Puttenham returned to
England he brought with him the finest literary products of the Renaissance. Though
these books shared the Italian focus on the ideas of ancient Greece and Rome, the
Northern Renaissance was shaped by such additional forces as the printing press, and the
more religious and satirical tone of Northern humanism, represented by such figures as
Erasmus and Thomas More.12 New and improved schools spread learning among the
Italians, and urged Englishmen to inherit the Renaissance ways of teaching. The aim of
8
Ibid, page 142
Cal. For. VI, 617, 637
10
Thomson, George T. Sir Francis Drake. New York: William Morrow & Co. In., 1972 page 51
11
Keith, II, 206; Cal. Scot. II, 19-20
12
Heydt, Bruce. "The Secret Voyage of Sir Francis Drake." British Heritage 25.51 (2005): 2
9
education was to be the cultivation of wisdom learned from the ancients and applied to
good of society.
The imitation of classical models and the influence of Italian Renaissance continued
to be evidence in English literature.13 French and English literary achievement came of
age during the sixteenth century, heavily influenced by both classical models and the
writings of the Italian Renaissance. The essays of the Frenchman Montage, the portrait of
the English Sidney and Spenser, and plays of Marlowe and Shakespeare are highlights of
the Northern Renaissance.14 It is evident that Shakespeare had an infatuation with Italy
since many of his plays occur in Italy, such as Romeo and Juliet. The Renaissance in
Northern Europe peaked in the latter half of the sixteenth century, and its cultural
achievements were primarily literary rather than artistic. The Italian models continued to
be very influential in England throughout the century.15
From the facts provided by a variety of sources, it is evident that the flourishing of
the Renaissance’s art would have undoubtedly occurred in the sixteenth century without
the guide of Queen Elizabeth. The Italian art reached a new standard and the cultural
influence Italy had over a vast amount of counties was powerful. The thriving
Renaissance art was an inevitable occurrence. As Europe continued to bask in the art of
the Renaissance, the English were just beginning. No matter the ruler or government
status European counties, each took part in the new era of Renaissance. Thus, the
eruption of Renaissance art in sixteenth century England was advanced by the Italians as
opposed to Queen Elizabeth.
13
Cal. Scot.II, 140
Tytler, Scotland VII, 115
15
Turning Points. The Renaissance. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, Inc. 2000, page 98-99
14
The English Renaissance began during the age of Elizabeth, when she encouraged
the flourishing of artistic genius. The spirit of the later Elizabethan age is a combination
of sheer joy, national self-confidence, and a new passion for the arts. The tide of
nationalism ran high: England seemed to have finally freed herself from foreign
domination, and the decisive defeat of Spain, in 1588, confirmed this. The release of
men’s minds from medieval scholasticism,16 and the influence of the Continental
Renaissance, gave the poets and dramatists unexplored tracts of experience in the hearts
and passions of men; the whole social and political structure was surmounted by the
enigmatic and dazzling figure of the Queen, who was adored by the poets.
No one with even the slightest interest in English literature needs to be told that its
greatest period was the Elizabethan Age. Although the term “Elizabethan drama” has
often been used loosely to cover the dramatic literature, it is applied here only to the
productions of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, from her accession to the throne of England in
1558 to her death in 1603.17 The sudden blossoming of the arts took place during the last
twenty years of Elizabeth’s reign. There were promoted by the following; the energetic
spirit of an age that was celebrating the Queen, the nation, and exploration; the fashion
for poetic drama in the theaters; the growth of the printing industry; and a new national
school of musical composition.18 It is not remarkable that Elizabethan drama is on the
whole a poetic drama. Elizabethans had fallen in love with language, words, speech of all
kinds, homely and conceited, old words and new words, short words and long words,
poor words and rich words. The love of words and of their rhythms is a part of the
heritage of the English Renaissance. Elizabethan drama is in its best sense a wordy
16
Jokinen, Anniina. Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603). 28 Sep. 2006. 15 Oct. 2006
<http://www.luminarium.org/renlit/eliza.htm>.
17
Lacey, Robert. Sir Walter Ralegh. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1973 page 35
18
Hibbert, Christopher. The Virgin Queen: The Personal History of Elizabeth I. London England: Viking,
1990 page 325
drama.19 The Elizabethans loved stories, and their stage was ideally equipped to tell such
lavished works of literarily genius.
Encyclopedist Charles Boyce stated that, “Elizabeth herself was the most important
patron of the Elizabethan theater; her influence was essential in protecting the theatrical
profession from prohibition, and her court provided an important source of income and
prestige for the London acting companies.”20 Elizabethan drama flourished in the 1580s
is credited to court sponsorship of professional acting companies, the building of the first
public theater, and the dramatic innovations of the new group of young university
educated playwrights.21 The rise of the professional actor occurred gradually during the
fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. By establishing professional acting companies,
new buildings performances, and a willing audience made possible the distinctive
drama.22 The content of Elizabethan plays conformed to the spirit of the age. Playwrights
and their audiences were attracted to tales of comic or tragic adventure drawn from
domestic and foreign literature; often folksy manners and beliefs, realistic speech, and
vivid character drawing.23 The Elizabethans were also partial to chronicles of the English
nation. Elizabeth herself spent little money on patronage, but instead demanded that her
courtiers promote the writers who supported her own social and political goals,24 civil
order, obedience, and patriotism focused on the crown.
William Shakespeare acquired a reputation that few other writers can claim. In the
1590s he completed his sonnet cycle and two long narrative poems; he also wrote
historical plays, comedies, and early tragedies that have been ranked among the
19
Lewis, Brenda. "Elizabeth I: The Reality Behind the Mask." British Heritage 24.4 (2003): 18.
"Elizabeth I," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2006 http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2006
Microsoft Corporation. (October 5, 2006)
21
Ridley, Jasper. Elizabeth. New York, New York: Viking, 1988. page 15
22
Harmon, Melissa. "In Search of Elizabeth." 4.4 (2000): 5.
23
Harmon, Melissa. "Queen Elizabeth I." Biography 4.4 (2000): 96
24
Adams, Simon. "The Succession And Foreign Policy." History Today 53.5 (2003): 7.
20
masterpieces of English literature and are studied in all major English speaking schools
around the world.25 The company of which Shakespeare was a member bore various
names at different times as the patron, his rank, or his office changed. It began as the Earl
of Leicester’s Men, then as its principal actors joined a group under the patronage of Lord
Strange and for a time acted at Henslowe’s theater, the Rose.26 The popularity of
Shakespeare’s plays in his own time and their continuing appeal to four centuries of
audiences, readers, writers, and scholars have led numerous literary critics to attempt an
explanation of Shakespeare’s historical and cultural significance. Shakespeare’s art was
influenced by the talents of his theatrical company and the physical conditions of the
Elizabethan stage. His ability to capture, and continue to capture, the imaginations of
people from various social classes, countries, and intellectual perspectives demonstrates
the dramatic power of this playwright who was not only “of an age, but for all time.”27
Few dramatists can lay claim to the universal reputation achieved by Shakespeare. His
plays have been translated into many languages and performed on amateur and
professional stages throughout the world. Evidence of the widespread and deep effect of
Shakespeare’s works on English and American culture can be found in the number of
words and phrases that have become embedded in everyday usage.28 It would be
impossible to imagine what the landscape of the English language would be like without
the work contributed by the playwright. Since Queen Elizabeth adored theater, she
encouraged many writers, such as Shakespeare, to create plays in hopes they would be
recognized by the Elizabeth I.
25
Heydt, Bruce. "The Secret Voyage of Sir Francis Drake." British Heritage 25.51 (2005): 2
Thomson, George T. Sir Francis Drake. New York: William Morrow & Co. In., 1972 page 86
27
Turning Points. Elizabethan England. San Diego, Ca: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 2002 page 248 - 49
28
Plowden, Alison. Elizabeth Regina. New York, New York: Times Books, 1980 page 115-119
26
The style of easel-painting that emerged, called “Elizabethan costume-piece,” was
distinguished by a flat, linear, lifeless depiction of the face of the sitter and exaggerated
emphasis on the clothing and symbols of social position. Elizabeth’s reign is associated
readily enough with a literary golden age, but other artistic and cultural achievements are
no doubt forgotten. The non-literary cultural achievements during Elizabeth’s reign
focused on two revolutionary changes that affected both high and popular Elizabethan
culture; “The growth of printing and the increase in books printed in English.”29
England's Golden Age, the most splendid period of English literature, called the
Elizabethan Age, began in the later years of Elizabeth's reign. Francis Bacon, writer of
the 'Essays', was one of the Queen's lawyers. Edmund Spenser wrote 'The Faerie Queens'
in her honor. Shakespeare acted before her; but at the time of her death he had not yet
written most of his great tragedies.30
Elizabeth welcomed to her court the intellectuals, artists, poets and musicians who
would spread the image of artistic genius projected throughout the era. This was the era
of William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, acquired reputations for creating
English literary masterpieces and Thomas Kyd, who belongs to the first generation of
Elizabethan playwrights. Christopher Marlowe was one of the most significant of
Elizabethan dramatists; he was a pioneer and innovator in addition to being a poet of
genius. Marlowe introduced a powerful and flexible blank verse and centered interest in
the portrayal of some strong character in each of his tragedies. The Elizabethan Age,
particularly the last twenty years of Elizabeth’s reign, was marked by a great increase in
artistic expression. Internal peace, increased wealth, and a Queen who loved the arts,
29
Somerset, Anne. Elizabeth I. Great Britain, London: Butler & Tanne Ltd., 1991 page 156
Smith, Lacey B. Elizabeth Tudor: Portrait of a Queen.Canada, Toronto: Little, Brown & Company, 1975
page 68
30
combined to transform the impulses of the Italian Renaissance into something uniquely
English. Therefore, Queen Elizabeth I clearly encouraged the flourishing of English art
by expressing her love, support and appreciation for them.
Queen Elizabeth’s decision to remain a single female ruler created weak ties with
other nations, and left England without a true heir. During this era, enthroned women
such as Catherine of Spain and Elizabeth provoked controversy about the legitimacy of
female rule. Giovanni Correr, the Venetian ambassador to France, said of Queen Mary of
Scots, “to govern states is not the business of women.”31 Most women in the ruling
classes did not rule, but only shared some of the prerogatives of sovereignty. No one was
more outspoken than the Presbyterian John Knox, who charged in his First Blast of the
trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women of 1558 that “it is more than a
monster in nature that a woman shall reign and have empire above man. To promote a
woman to bear rule, above any realm, nation, or city, it is repugnant to nature, contumely
to God… and, finally, it is the subversion of good order, of all equity and justice.”
Woman’s attempt to rule is an act of treason: “For that woman reigneth above man, she
hath obtained it by treason and conspiracy committed against God… {Men} must study
to repress her inordinate pride and tyranny to the uttermost of their power.” 32 John Knox
was not the only man who had this prospective about the English Queen’s ability to rule
in a man’s world. This was evident in the sixth book of Jean Bodin in which he explored
thoroughly the emotional dimension of female rule. “A woman’s sexual nature would
surely,” he claimed, “interfere with her effectiveness as ruler.” 33
31
Headlines in History. The 1500s. Greenhaven Press, Inc., 2001 page 54
Turning Points. The Renaissance. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, Inc. 2000 page 86
33
Coote, Stephen. Drake: The Life and Legend of an Elizabethan Hero. New York, New York : Thomas
Dunne Books, 2003. page 9
32
The Privy Council governed the country. At the start of Elizabeth's reign they met
only three times per week, but by the end, they met daily. Elizabeth was not overly fond
of parliament, which was becoming more powerful during the sixtieth Century, and only
called meetings when absolutely necessary. Actual records of parliament and the enacted
legislation show that the Queen and parliament mostly agreed. Much of parliament's
work was concerned with local matters; Elizabeth would not allow matters of state to be
discussed without her permission. It was the Queen and the Privy Council who put
forward most of the legislation and Elizabeth's ministers managed parliament by having
agents or men of business within the House of Commons to steer laws through. Most of
Elizabeth's ministers were long serving, which gave the advantage of continuity of
government. 34
There was an abundance of Queens during this era, all of whom had different styles
of governing, if they governed at all. In France, Anne of Brittany, Queen of Charles VII,
commissioned the translation of Boccaccio’s Concerning Famous Women, and filled her
court with educated women and discussions of platonic love.35 In Spain the fearsome
Isabella guided religious reform and intellectual life, while in England, her learned
daughter Catherine of Aragon, King Henry VIII’s first Queen, was surrounded by the
leading humanists of the era.36 Although Catherine was loved by the people, Henry’s
only use for her was to breed and create a male heir. Henry disposed of her, after three
births (two children died), and three miscarriages.37 Women’s uncertain status and
unsuccessful history as royal heirs helps explain Henry VIII’s desperate concern to
produce a male heir. Henry could find no counter-example could refute the apparent
Bassnett, Susan, Elizabeth I : A Feminist Perspective. New York: St. Martin’s 1988 page 559
Plowden, Alison. Elizabeth Regina. New York, New York: Times Books, 1980 page 32
36
Turning Points. The Renaissance. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, Inc. 2000 page 57-66
37
Somerset, Anne. Elizabeth I. Great Britain, London: Butler & Tanne Ltd., 1991 page 167
34
35
disadvantages of a Queen regnant. Certainly among the most compelling story lines of
the sixteenth century was the intrigue between two British Queens, Elizabeth I and her
cousin Mary Stuart Queen of Scotland.38 The continence of the cousins’ rivalry resulted
in numerous disapproval from the people about women’s ability to rule. Yet, even with
Elizabeth as a successful exemplar of female monarchy, the belief persisted that women
as a sex were naturally unfit for political rule.
Queen Elizabeth I placed James I of Scotland on the throne, which caused the
downfall of the English monarchy. James’s son, Charles I, engaged in a struggle for
power with the Parliament of England. As he was an advocate of the Divine Rights of
Kings, many in England feared that he was attempting to gain absolute power. The last
years of Charles’ reign were marked by the English Civil War. He was opposed by the
forces of Parliament, who challenged his attempts to augment his own power, who were
hostile to his religious policies and apparent Catholic sympathy. The first Civil War
(1642 - 1645) ended in defeat for Charles, after which the parliamentarians expected him
to accept their demands for a constitutional monarchy. Instead, he remained defiant,
provoking the second Civil War (1648 - 1649). This was considered unacceptable, and
Charles was subsequently tried, convicted and executed for high treason. The monarchy
was abolished, and a republic was established, the Commonwealth of England.39
It is evident that each time Queen Elizabeth broke off an engagement or proposal,
from men of other countries, she damaged the alliance with said nation. Elizabeth was not
the only Queen of her time; others were married and kept their place as a woman in a
society that was a man’s world. The Queens were viewed as weak and indulged in
womanly activities letting their husband rule most of the country. Elizabeth decision to
38
39
Lacey, Robert. Sir Walter Ralegh. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1973 page 184
Alison Brown, The Renaissance. New York: Addison-Wesley, 1990. page 325
place a Catholic King on the throne of England created English Commonwealth, and the
down fall of monarchy. Consequently, not only did the gender of Elizabeth negatively
affect the country of England, but did her decision to remain a single woman who failed
to produce an heir to the crown.
Queen Elizabeth I effectively displayed her capabilities as a single female ruler in a
society where females were naturally considered inferior to males. As a skilled politician,
Elizabeth was wise enough to surround herself with intelligent and thoughtful advisers.
Though she may have been an unmarried Queen in an era dominated by men, she did not
let others make decisions for her; she listened to her counselors but acted on their advice
only when it made sense to her. The image of weakness turned out not to apply. Instead,
popular with her people and feared by those whom she disliked, Elizabeth began to
project an image of strength and tenacity, an image that was quite accurate, and one that
helped enormously in winning respect from observers. Female heirs to the throne were
aware that men foresaw intractable difficulties for a Queen regnant in both political and
religious spheres. How could a woman lead troops in battle, manage Parliament, or
negotiate with foreign kings? If women must not speak in church, as Paul had instructed
the Corinthians, how could the Queen command her bishops as head of the Anglican
establishment?40
Venetian ambassadors to the court of Elizabeth’s successors were impressed that a
Queen by her exceptional wisdom and skill had “advanced the female condition itself,”
and “overcome the distinction of sexes.” Male observers thus viewed the sex of the
female monarch as an impediment to rule or considered it obliterated, overlooking it
altogether, as though the woman was no woman. Edmund Spenser simply made his
40
Starkey, David. Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne. Great Britain: Chatto & Windus, 2000 page 184
monarch an exception to the otherwise universal rule of female subordination: “virtuous
women.” He wrote, that they are born “to base humility,” unless God intervenes to raise
them “to lawful soveraintie”41 Women had more freedom in the Elizabethan period than
they did in previous centuries. Since Elizabeth came to rule, she brought with her a new
way of thinking.42 It was as though men and women could do anything and be anything
they wanted to be, that their capacity for knowledge was limitless.43
In a masculine environment like the battlefield, Elizabeth allowed her “male”
qualities to emerge. In the Queen’s famous remarks allegedly addressed to the troops at
Tilbury in 1588, she highlighted her manly attributes: “I may have the body of a weak
and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king.”44 On this occasion, she
further dramatized her male persona through visual imagery, by wearing breastplate and
helmet, mounted on a charger. Her virginity served as a potent symbol of female power,
enhancing the magical and religious atmosphere that surrounded her. Elizabeth used
imagery in her accession portrait, in which she was shown with her hair down,
representing herself as a virgin maiden.45 At times, she would depict herself as the Virgin
Mary. By presenting herself as the unattainable mistress, the Fairy Queen, the chaste
goddess Diana, she encouraged her courtiers to woo and worship her. By presenting
herself as the Virgin Mother, she reached out to offer understanding and hope.46
Courtship had a complex significance for the Queen as a game and strategic
political tactic. She managed to use her single state to benefit the country by using the
bait of marriage to draw in enemies, or to frighten them by suggesting she would marry
41
Headlines in History. The 1500s. Greenhaven Press, Inc., 2001 page 245
Weir, Alison. Elizabeth the Queen. Great Britain, London: Pimlico, 1998. page 168
43
Ridley, Jasper. The Tudor Age. Woodstock, New York: The Overlook Press, 1988. page 65
44
Neale, Eliz &Parliaments, i. 38-39
45
Statutes of the Realm, I Eliz., 375
46
Lettenhove, i. 494
42
one of their foes.47 Although her pioneer role provoked tension with male counselors,
who continually urged her to marry and bear an heir, the novelty of her situation gave
Elizabeth the opportunity to experiment, to forge an individual solution to the problems
of female power.48 Until 1581, Elizabeth’s pending marriage was a dominant and often
divisive political issue in England, and was treated with such importance by
contemporaries that it provoked both polemical debate and political unrest. The final
outcomes of the courtships were uncertain and could affect the political stability of the
realm. There is very little evidence to support her implacable hostility to matrimony or
her determination to rule alone.49
It is clear that she did want to marry on two occasions: Lord Robert Dudley in 1560,
and Francis duke of Anjou in 1579. With the intense pressure from her councilors and
parliament, she showed a readiness to marry two other suitors. In the mid-1560s, she
agreed to open negotiations with the archduke Charles of Austria and from the late 1570s
through to 1571 she encouraged matrimonial negotiations with Henry duke of Anjou.50
Both of these suitors were suggested for political advantage. She was only thinking of
marriage to satisfy her subjects, so there was not point at all in taking a husband who
would displease a significant number of them.51 Such statements provided a convenient
excuse to avoid the responsibility for the failure of particular sets of negotiations.
Elizabeth’s personal preferences of suitor provided no answer here, for there was little
room for the Council to operate in this crucial area of policy. Had her Council ever
united behind any one of her suitors, she would have found great difficulty in rejecting
47
Morey, The Catholic Subjects of Elizabeth I, 27.
Lettenhove, I 520-1
49
Ibid., I. 399-401
50
Coote, Stephen. Drake: The Life and Legend of an Elizabethan Hero. New York, New York : Thomas
Dunne Books, 2003. page 56
51
Clapham, 68
48
his proposal. Without strong councilor backing Elizabeth, she would not or could not
marry a particular candidate, which is true in the case of the duke of Montmorency,
Archduke Charles, and Francis duke of Alencon. 52
Elizabeth had strong political reasons for not wishing to tie herself too closely by a
matrimonial alliance. Eric XVI of Sweden proposed to her in the first years of her reign,
but an alliance with Sweden would have been only minor use to her, and she wanted to be
free to offer herself to more important sovereigns. The same applied to the Duke of
Holsteing, and Archduke Charles.53 The House of Commons asked the Queen to marry so
as to provide an heir to the throne. In her reply, Elizabeth stated that she had no intention
of ever marrying, “and in the end, this shall be for me sufficient, that a marble stone shall
declare that a Queen, having reigned such a time, lived and died a virgin.”54 When Philip
proposed to Elizabeth she thanked him, and said that she was deeply honoured, but
refused, as she did not wish to marry and would always remain a virgin.55
Much later in her reign, she considered marriage to Henry, Duke of Anjou, who was
the brother of Charles IX of France. In 1579, at the age of 46, the Anjou proposal was
probably her last chance of marriage. Anjou, whom Elizabeth called her frog, was twenty
years younger than the Queen, and was disfigured by smallpox, but this did not stop her
from kissing him in public. The second marriage of her beloved Robert Dudley may have
had something to do with her enthusiasm for Anjou, but the Queen was uncertain, torn
between the diplomatic and personal advantages of the marriage and the clear public
hostility towards it. It is likely that the Queen simply did not wish to be married, and is
52
Strype, Annals, ii(ii). 641-52
Froude, x. 502.
54
Ibid., i.49.
55
Dasent, xi. 207; Harington, iii.98-103
53
quoted as having said, 'I have taken to myself a husband who is the Kingdom of
England.'56
Elizabeth effectively displayed her capabilities of a female ruler in a society which
assumed that females were naturally inferior to males. Elizabeth was bound to prove
them wrong, thus changing the status of women. Most women in the ruling classes did
not rule, but only shared some of the prerogatives of sovereignty, in the vibrant artistic
and intellectual climate of the Renaissance.57 She is known for being one of the world’s
first feminist because she showed that women’s involvement in politics was natural.
Therefore, throughout Queen Elizabeth’s reign she was able to change the status of
women and prove to the world how successful a country run by a single woman could be.
Elizabeth’s outstanding political skills were employed not only to run the kingdom, but
also to demonstrate that she was an exception who was superior to the usual disabilities
that afflicted ordinary women. Perhaps she could not surpass her father as a king, but she
did just that as a Queen. As a result, Queen Elizabeth I was a prosperous, strong, single
female ruler of England, who made the finest decisions for her country.
Queen Elizabeth’s decision to employee privateers resulted in damaged ties with
England and other European nations. A privateer is a person who has a commission from
a recognized authority to take action against a designated enemy. The possibility of
pirates was a greater threat at this time which has been called the “golden age of
piracy.”58 Some pirates, known as privateers, worked for governments. British ships
patrolled the Caribbean and Atlantic in search of Spanish galleons, large slow ships
loaded with gold and other riches for North America. The English sea robbers made life
56
Ibid., viii. 98-102
Turning Points. The Renaissance. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, Inc. 2000 page 241
58
Jokinen, Anniina. Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603). 28 Sep. 2006. 15 Oct. 2006
<http://www.luminarium.org/renlit/eliza.htm>.
57
miserable and dangerous for the Spanish galleon captains. To the Spanish, Sir Francis
Drake and others privateers of his kind were criminals. As attacks against Spanish vessels
increased throughout the century, the tensions between the two nations increased as well.
In 1568, the English helped themselves to Spanish gold from some pay ships that
were forced to take refuge at Portsmouth during a storm. Since the Spanish gave some
support to the plots to overthrow Elizabeth and replace her with a Catholic monarch,
Mary, Queen of Scots, the English found this act acceptable. A war was inevitable but,
recognizing that England did not have the resources to fight Spain, Elizabeth signed the
Treaty of Nijmegen in 1572 and the Treaty of Bristol in 1574, among the terms of which
were the return of the Spanish gold seized at Portsmouth and that Elizabeth would refuse
to grant any further licenses to English privateers. 59
Several times Drake allied himself with pirates to achieve his goals. In 1573 he
joined with Tetu, a French pirate, to attack a mule train laden with gold and silver on the
Isthmus of Panama. Although Tetu died, Drake and his men acquired significant treasure.
As a result, the Spanish labeled him a fierce Protestant pirate and added his name to their
list of most wanted. Aboard the Golden Hinde, Drake pillaged Spanish ships and
settlements with Elizabeth’s backing, but her support was often secret. March 1578,
Drake had sailed with five ships and 164 men from Plymouth, on the 13th of December,
on a voyage round the world. The voyage had been planned by Sir Francis Walsingham,
Leicester, and Hatton were members of the consortium who financed it. Elizabeth knew
about it, and that the object of the expedition was to obtain gold and riches by plundering
Spanish and Portuguese ships, and perhaps also Spanish towns in America.60 When he
59
60
Statutes of the Realm, I Eliz., 156
Harmon, Melissa. "In Search of Elizabeth." 4.4 (2000): 5.
returned to England after circumnavigating the world and capturing Spain’s richest
treasure galleon, he was knighted.61
Drake sailed from Plymouth in his flagship The Elizabeth Bonaventure on the 14th
of September 1585, and twelve days later reached Vigo in Northern Spain and the
neighboring islands. According to the horrified Spaniards, his men stripped the rich
garments off the image of Our Lady of the Bongo on the Isle of Bongo in the bay, and
bombarded the Great Cross of Vigo from the sea with their guns. Before he returned to
Portsmouth ten months later he had raided the Cape Verde Islands, destroyed St
Augustine, the capital of the Spanish colony in Florida, captured and sacked Cartagena,
the greatest and richest city in the New World, and returned to England with booty valued
at 60,000 pounds.62 None of his previous expeditions had excited so much attention
throughout Europe; it made him the hero of the international Protestant cause, a devilish
pirate in Spanish and Catholic eyes, and a romantic adventurer to less committed people
who admired a brave man.
Drake was instructed by Queen Elizabeth I to attempt to undermine the morepowerful Spanish navy. Though England was at the time a minor sea power, Drake did
exactly as he was told. He ended up destroying many Spanish ships as they lay in or near
Spanish waters, an act celebrated in legends as “singeing the King of Spain’s beard.”
63
The constant attacks on the Spanish ships and the plundering of their colonies not only
made the Spanish furious, but caused a full out war. Walsingham urged Elizabeth to send
Drake to attack Cadiz and sink the Spanish transport ships before they could sail.
Elizabeth was very reluctant to agree. She thought it would wreck the negotiations with
61
Thomson, George T. Sir Francis Drake. New York: William Morrow & Co. In., 1972 page 125
Reeves, Marjurie. The Elizabethan Explorers. New York: Longman Inc. 1990 page 148
63
Turning Points. The Renaissance. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, Inc. 2000 page 81
62
Parma and make war inevitable, but her counselors, as well as Drake and her seamen,
warned her that Parma was spinning out of the negotiations until the Armada was ready
to sail, and that her only chance to defeat them was the allow Drake to sink the Spanish at
Cadiz. She at last agreed, and at the beginning of March 1587, gave orders for the
expedition to prepare to sail as soon as possible.64 In 1587, while the Spanish
commanders tried to decide the best strategy for attacking England, Sir Francis Drake
sailed into Cadiz and wrecked nearly 40 vessels, including the Spanish flagship. On the
way home, Drake's fleet attacked fortresses along the Portuguese coast, destroying
supplies. These attacks postponed the sailing of the Spanish Armada for a year.65
To the English, men like Sir Francis Drake were heroes, patriotic Englishmen doing
their best to enrich England at the expense of its Spanish enemy. While the Spanish
called “Francisco Draque,” (The Dragon) and other, names less flattering. The tensions
between England and Spain culminated in outright war in 1588, a war unexpectedly won
by the English. Indeed, partly due to the efforts of the English privateers, the balance of
power between England and Spain shifted significantly during the sixteenth century.66
English ships were boldly venturing across the seas to the West Indies where they came
into conflict with Spain and Portugal, who owned and ruled the New World and claimed
a monopoly of trade. English smugglers broke through the blockade and made huge
profits by selling, in the West Indies, blacks they had seized in Africa. John Hawkins, Sir
Francis Drake, and other English seamen also waylaid Spanish ships on their way home
and seized their gold. Elizabeth aided the English privateers with ships and money and
64
Coote, Stephen. Drake: The Life and Legend of an Elizabethan Hero. New York, New York : Thomas
Dunne Books, 2003. page 8
65
Sc. Cal, ii172
66
Ridley, Jasper. Elizabeth. New York, New York: Viking, 1988. page 287
shared in their profits and stolen treasure. Philip II finally decided to put an end to these
attacks by invading and conquering England.67
“However, privateering was always a risky business because it ultimately damage
trade, which ultimately occurred with the Spanish empire.”68 The Spanish economy
suffered from the consequences of English privateers, such as Sir Francis Drake whose
mission was to “interrupt the flow of treasure to Philip’s war machine.”69 The Spanish
were determined to rid themselves of the English sea dogs and to preserve the Caribbean
as a private Spanish sea. In Drake’s time and later, all foreign ships found in the
Caribbean, whether merchantmen, privateers, or pirate craft- could be seized by the
Spanish and confiscated. Their crews were often tortured to death or imprisoned. The
English were more harshly treated by the Spanish than were members of any other nation
for two reasons. Firstly, England was the leader of Europe’s Protestants. Secondly,
English smugglers were trying to break Spain’s trade monopoly over her colonial empire
in the New World. And even though Spain could supply her colonies with only a small
fraction of their needs, smugglers might be killed if captured. So the Englishmen who
sailed into the Caribbean were risking much for gold. And of those brave rivals, Drake
was the luckiest, the most courageous, and by far the most successful of the sea dogs who
fought for Elizabeth.70
The West Indies became one of the main hunting grounds of the privateers. Drake’s
destructive raid had exposed the inadequacy of the Spanish defenses. The usual view is
that Drake’s success awakened the Spanish to their own vulnerability, and that while the
English failed to press home their attack the Spanish took such effective measures for
67
Plowden, Alison. Elizabeth Regina. New York, New York: Times Books, 1980 page 69
Lewis, Brenda. "Elizabeth I: The Reality Behind the Mask." British Heritage 24.4 (2003): 18.
69
Thomson, George T. Sir Francis Drake. New York: William Morrow & Co. In., 1972 page 85
70
Ibid., page 97
68
their defense that they were able to repel the next big assault when it came ten years later.
It is maintained, the record of the English in the Caribbean during the Spanish war was
one of unfulfilled promise.71 From these facts we can conclude that Queen Elizabeth’s
decision to enforce English privateers to ransack, pillage, and plunder Spanish property,
in terms of ships and land, caused war between these two countries. The privateers cost a
much needed alliance between Spain and England, since Spain was one of the most
powerful counties at that time. Thus, Queen Elizabeth’s use of privateers destroyed the
relationship with Spain which triggered war.
Queen Elizabeth’s decision to use privateers assisted in the prosperous economy
and colonization of the Americas. Privateering contributed to the English sea strength,
and the Queen’s policy encouraged the use for expeditions of plunder. To simply say that
English privateering flourished during the last half of the sixtieth century is a serious
understatement of the situation. It had, in fact, achieved the status of a recognized
profession. With the vast amount of English ships in the northeast Atlantic and the
growing amount in the Americans, Elizabeth was able to exercise her sea power.
“The sea-war in general and privateering in particular did much to associate English
nationalism with militant maritime expansion.”72 The royal navy interests were
concerned above all with privateering, and the Queen’s policy encouraged the use of her
ships in expeditions of plunder, for she expected them to pay their way when not
employed in the defense of the realm or the necessary operations of the Continental and
Irish wars.73 Privateering consisted in the officially licensed operations of privatelyowned vessels against enemy shipping and goods in time of war, where privateer’s ships
71
A.P. Newton, The European Nations in the West Indies, 1493-1688, pp. 108-20
Harmon, Melissa. "In Search of Elizabeth." 4.4 (2000): 5.
73
Jokinen, Anniina. Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603). 28 Sep. 2006. 15 Oct. 2006
<http://www.luminarium.org/renlit/eliza.htm>.
72
outnumbered the Queens. English privateering contributed to produce a considerable
increase in English shipbuilding, and established England’s reputation as an enterprising
maritime power.74 Therefore the government had responsibility for, and could well
benefit from, the licensing, control and taxation of privateering. In practice, the system of
licensing was very loose control over the conduct of privateers as sea was so inadequate
that the government was seriously embarrassed by contrast complains from neutrals. 75
The economic nationalism market for English cloth and other goods helped to ease
unemployment at home and absorb some of the surplus poor. Privateering would
stimulate fishing, and thus develop the reserve of shops and seamen.76 Some Elizabethans
believed that their Queen was chosen by God to rule over a new empire. When the
privateers discovered new lands, they saw them, not as places where native people
already lived, but as fresh territories to bring glory and riches for Elizabeth to add to her
empire. The Elizabethan privateers and explores brought glory and riches to England
because of the land they took for their Queen.77 The Barbary and Levant men who took to
privateering did so because of the nature of their trade. They not only had the powerful
ships most suitable for privateering, but could also find in privateering an appropriate
substitute for and supplement to their normal dealing. Inevitably, their appetite grew with
what it fed on, and privateering reinforced both their power and their ambition to
penetrate the enemy’s colonial trade.
When Drake sailed around the tip of South America and found himself on the
Pacific coast the pickings were rich. Gold and silver, newly mined or taken from the
Indians, had been collected in cargo ships and taken to a Spanish collecting point in
74
Kearney Hugh, Science and Change, 1500-1700.U. New York; McGrawHill, 1993 page 215
Lansdowne MS 157, f. 434. Caesar to Howards, 18 Dec, 1590
76
D.B. Quinn, Rran. Royal Hist. Sac, 5th Ser., I (1951), I-23
77
Reeves, Marjurie. The Elizabethan Explorers. New York: Longman Inc. 1990 page 146
75
Panama. But the Spanish warships were on the wrong side of the continent to deal with
Drake, and after a few raids of the Spanish his ship was loaded with as many bars as she
could carry.78 After raiding Spanish interests along South American coast, Drake landed
near present day San Francisco and claimed the land for England. Drake named the
territory "Nova Albion" or Latin for "New England". Drake reportedly left an inscribed
plaque announcing the English arrival and claim of California before he sailed across the
Pacific Ocean and back to England.79 Drake’s fellow countrymen respectfully called him
Admiral and the Prince of Privateers.80 The Queen was astounded by the tremendous
quantity of silver, gold and jewels Drake had taken from the Spanish. Because she had
personally invested 1,000 crowns in the venture, she received 47,000 crowns in return.
This was enough money to pay off England’s foreign debt as well cover future expenses
of the country for several years.81
After years of preparation, Philip assembled a great fleet of his best and largest
warships, called the Spanish the Armada. In 1588, the Armada sailed into the English
Channel. The English were waiting for them and at once put out to sea. Their ships were
of newer design, smaller than the Spanish galleons, but faster and more heavily armed. In
a nine-day battle they inflicted terrible losses on the enemy. The ships that escaped ran
into bad weather and very few returned to Spain. English ships then carried the war to
Spain. When the struggle ended, after the deaths of both Elizabeth and Philip, no Spanish
fleet dared to contest England's command of the seas. Elizabeth feared Spain, not only
because it was Catholic, but because the Spaniards were growing rich and powerful from
their enormous overseas possessions. It was quite logical that she would take an interest
78
Thomson, George T. Sir Francis Drake. New York: William Morrow & Co. In., 1972 page 265
Vallar, Cindy. Pirates and Privateers. 2004. 5 Nov. 2006 <http://
http://www.cindyvallar.com/patriotpirate.html>.
80
Reeves, Marjurie. The Elizabethan Explorers. New York: Longman Inc. 1990 page 159
81
Plowden, Alison. Elizabeth Regina. New York, New York: Times Books, 1980
79
in the privateering voyages and adventures of John Hawkins. The Queen gave him
financial backing, as did a number of nobles and the lord mayor of London. 82 A
distinguished nobleman financed and led the last Queen Elizabeth’s great privateering
expeditions against Spain, in 1598. Lord George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland, started
financing and sometimes leading privateering expeditions in 1586 in order to build up his
sadly reduced family fortune. In 1598, he sailed from England with twenty ships for the
Spanish stronghold of San Juan, Puerto Rico. He wanted to ransack the town and take
control of it as an English base. On June 6, Clifford’s ships arrived at San Juan and laid
siege to the city. The city surrendered and was occupied by Clifford and his men. 83
The English gained trade from privateering, and the volume of exports mattered
much less than the high rate of profit on the imports and the broadening and balancing
effect of this trend upon the mercantile economy as a whole. While cloth exports
languished, the trades concerned chiefly with imports steadily advanced, in association
with that special trade of wartime-privateering, itself the largest source of locative
imports. Again, privateering acted in various ways for the further development of trade. It
is sufficiently clear that privateering organized by great merchants and their professional
allies was a highly profitable business.84 Hakluyt was to persuade the Queen and her
advisors that it would be a glorious thing to take possession of the lands in the New
World and make England rich and powerful. Queen Elizabeth herself was ready to listen,
because she was always short of money and on the look-out for ways of obtaining more.85
Privateering could cover the expenses of colonization; in these circumstances it was the
obvious, indeed, the only way of maintaining such an enterprise. Since that state would
82
Thomson, George T. Sir Francis Drake. New York: William Morrow & Co. In., 1972 page 285
A.P. Newton, The European Nations in the West Indies, 1493-1688, pp. 100
84
H.C.A. 14/26, no. 137
85
Reeves, Marjurie. The Elizabethan Explorers. New York: Longman Inc. 1990 page 148
83
not underwrite it, the Virginia experiment had to pay for itself. If it could in turn provide
further facilities for privateering it might be reckoned worth while.86
The English sent ships to the northeastern parts of North America, beginning
colonization attempts that would eventually give rise to Canada and the United States.
The first step toward implementing England’s claim was taken in 1578, when Queen
Elizabeth granted a charter to Sir Humphrey Gilbert to discover and settle lands. His
efforts were centered in Newfoundland, and it was there that he attempted to plant a
colony in 1583.87 Queen Elizabeth renewed Gilbert’s charter in the name of his halfbrother, Walter Raleigh, in 1584. On July 4, 1584, Raleigh landed on Roanoke Island,
and quickly began exploring and collecting material to be examined and tested in
England. Queen Elizabeth knighted Raleigh and named the new land Virginia in honor of
herself, the Virgin Queen. Financial support came quickly and the Queen gave Raleigh a
furnished ship, subscribed money, and by April 1585, a colony of 108 men sailed to the
New World. By the middle of August this colony, England’s first mainland American
colony, arrived at Roanoke Islands and began the construction of Fort Raleigh.88
From 1585 to 1600 hundreds of private ventures were organized for plunder. John
Hagthorpe’s statement that in the ‘Queen’s time’ there were ‘never less than 200 sail of
voluntaries and others’ on Spanish coasts many have been an exaggeration, but the
number may well have reached that level in some years of the war and seldom, if ever,
fell below a hundred.89 In 1585, Sir Walter Raleigh established the English colony of
Virginia (after the Virgin Queen) in the New World. He convinced Elizabeth that
colonization of America was in England’s national interest. In the period up to 1590
86
Further English Voyages, pp. lxvi-lxcii, lxxi-lxxv; R.D. Hussey
Neale, John, Queen Elizabeth. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1934. page 95
88
Edwards, Robert, Ireland in the Age of the Tudors, New York; Barnes & Noble Books, 1977 page 58
89
Norman Jones, The Birth of the Elizabethan Age. Cambridge, MA; Blackwell, 1971 page 47
87
nearly all the English privateering visits to the Caribbean were connected with the
Virginia enterprise.90 Therefore, the use of privateers resulted in a positive affect on the
English economy and empire.
Queen Elizabeth encouraged the flourishing of artistic genius, demonstrated a keen
ability to rule alone in a man’s world, and, with the aid of privateers, expanded the
empire’s colonies and riches, which resulted in her success during the late sixtieth
century. The Elizabethan era is recorded in history as a time when the transition from
amateur actors to professionally organized theater companies and the building of public
playhouses, made possible the distinctive drama which appeared in the last two decades
of Elizabeth’s reign. Elizabethan drama was characterized by elements of English
medieval drama combined with humanist learning from continental Europe. It was a time
of great poets and writers, such as Edmund Spenser, Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe,
and William Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s ability to capture the imagination of people
from various social classes, countries, and ideological perspectives may be attributed to
his unique ability to coin new words, and create memorable characters. The variety,
excellence, and sheer volume of poetry produced in the 1580s and 1590s may have been
prompted by the exuberant spirit of the age, the fashion for poetic drama, and the keen
interest of the Queen.91
Elizabeth I countered her subjects’ anxiety about being ruled by a woman by
dramatizing the ‘male’ attributes she shared with her father, bravery and intellectual skill,
and by encouraging comparison of herself with sacred and magical female figures like
the Virgin Mary and Diana, goddess of chastity. Elizabeth was urged to marry by her
privy councilors and Parliament as a way to resolve the problem of a successor and to
90
91
Thomson, George T. Sir Francis Drake. New York: William Morrow & Co. In., 1972 page 265
Sc. Cal, ii172
form a beneficial political alliance. She remained single because she was too politically
shrewd to insist on her personal preferences when any councilor opposed her choice. One
of Elizabeth's strengths as a leader was her willingness to take advice, and she surrounded
herself with some of the most capable statesmen of the time. However, Elizabeth was no
puppet. She was a well-educated woman of great intellect and used her notoriously sharp
tongue to settle any argument, usually in her favour. It could be argued that her legendary
indecision helped to delay the inevitable and expensive war with Spain for many years
but, history regards her as being a wise ruler.
Great privateers like Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh contributed to the
many successes gained by England and Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s decision to explore the
coast of North America was event to be the most persistent in terms of setting up
permanent settlements. English colonies were established in the New World at Roanoke
Island and Virginia. Aware that war with Spain was inevitable, Queen Elizabeth of
England, decided to strike the first blow, sending out privateers to pursue the enemy.
From the plundering of Spanish ships England. The early battles of the Spanish Armada
demonstrated that the English could do more than hold their own by using tactics and
smaller, faster ships. The famous defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, assisted by the
English privateers helped establish England’s reputation as an enterprising maritime
power.
Queen Elizabeth I possessed the qualities of a superb leader, making her an icon for
people worldwide. Elizabeth was gifted with a vast amount of personal courage and
awareness of her responsibility as a ruler. She commanded throughout her reign with the
respect and loyalty of her subjects. She was able to increase the size of England’s empire,
while maintaining the world’s strongest naval forces. Even though she was a woman,
Elizabeth demonstrated a keen ability to rule in a man’s world. When she died at the age
of 69, she was still called the Virgin Queen. By then rich and secure, England was
enjoying its greatest literary period it had ever seen. English ships were sailing into all
seas, and the kingdom had begun to establish its position as a world leader. It is in the
places she visited, her portraits, her letters and her speeches; and above all in history, that
Queen Elizabeth Tudor still lives on in deathless immortality. During challenging times
she prevailed and led her county out of the sixteenth century and into the seventeenth.
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